Despite his innovative artistic style, it was actually his own behaviour away from the easel that received most interest and his constant movements around Europe were predominantly to evade the repercussions of recent misdemeanors.
Caravaggio was a typical groundbreaking artist, with a creative painting style which was accompanied by a highly uncompromising and moody personality which was always likely to explode at any given moment.
Caravaggio would concentrate entirely on his painting for short periods when commissions arrived before letting down his hair socially once each project was complete. His excessive lifestyle sadly was cut short by his death at the premature age of 38 and it is frustrating to consider what he might have gone onto achieve artistically had his life continued.
Caravaggio paintings often depicted key religious scenes because at this time most high paying commissions came from religious institutions who were typically looking to add some style to their interiors. There is also a high number of Greek mythology involved in Caravaggio's career, too, such as seen in Medusa but these paintings are likely to have been instead inspired by personal interest more than anything else.
During his time Caravaggio's life was embroiled in problems including large numbers of fights which resulted from an aggressive and argumentative personality which was only ever tamed during periods of painting.
Using art as a way to calm and solve mental issues was famously later seen in the life of Vincent van Gogh although their own issues were somewhat different. It is unsurprising to see two more artists whose creative genius was matched by issues in their private life, which have gone hand-in-hand in the lives of so many other artistic talents from around the world since the Middle Ages.
Caravaggio's extrovert lifestyle led to the extraordinary event of having a had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope at a time when he was embroiled in all sorts of social problems whenever his artistic projects were completed.
It seems incredible that someone with such an inspired artistic eye and quality of brushstrokes could be such as aggressive drunk when away from the easel, but this contrast is not unusual with significant artists who often have complicated and challenging personalities which are never truly understood within their own lifetimes.
Caravaggio typically used extreme lighting within otherwise understated scenes with a subtle approach that was significantly different to other artists who could be found at that time. His approach to art was later to achieve great respect and the entire list of works from his career was to be studied in great detail as a matter of course for many art students who became interested in this major figure within Italian art whose life left an impressive legacy, which was eventually discovered.
Caravaggio remains one of the most important and influential artists in Italian art history, from a country which dominated European art from the Middle Ages right up to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Caravaggio was not someone who fitted into the status quo of growing up in the artistic institutions to go on to become a teacher to others and was very much his own man, making him a much more exciting individual whose private life is as talked about as his fine art work paintings.
Supper at Emmaus
Supper at Emmaus is a well known painting from Caravaggio's career. Caravaggio was somewhat forgotten after his death for many years but in recent times has been discovered again, with a particular acceptance of his role in influencing many significant Baroque painters who followed sometime after his short career has been curtailed by tragedy.
Those Baroque painters strongly believed to have been inspired on part by the innovative style of Caravaggio included Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, Bernini, and Rembrandt.
Calling of St Matthew
Calling of St Matthew is one of the best examples of Caravaggio's contrasting light techniques which were far more dramatic than had been seen before, offering a moody look to his paintings which made them instantly memorable and highly respected within the modern era. It took many years for his career to be understood and remembered in the way it is today, and only around the early 20th century was his long list of paintings brought back into the public eye.
Incredulity of St Thomas
Incredulity of St Thomas is one of many religious scenes from the career of Caravaggio and these paintings would always offer a raw set of emotions with symbolism combined with realism to give a powerful finish.
Caravaggio has gone on to achieve a somewhat cult following because of the extraordinary controversies spread across his short life as well as the majestic qualities which he instilled in so many of the paintings that he managed to fit into the 38 years of his life.
Deposition is another explosive and entertaining Caravaggio painting which deserves attention. The style and techniques used by Caravaggio in his paintings have made them exceptionally popular as reproduction copies for his many fans around the world.
Frequently these reproductions are found in the forms of framed art prints, posters and stretched canvases with giclees typically offering the most accurate reproduction of colour from the original Caravaggio paintings.
David with Head of Goliath
David with Head of Goliath
Adoration of the Shepherds
Adoration of the Shepherds
List of Famous Caravaggio Paintings
See below for a fuller list of major paintings from the career of Caravaggio which goes beyond just those featured in this homepage.
- Adoration of the Shepherds
- Amor Vincit Omnia
- Basket of Fruit
- The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
- Boy Bitten by a Lizard
- Boy Peeling Fruit
- Boy with a Basket of Fruit
- Burial of St. Lucy
- The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew
- The Calling of St Matthew
- Christ on the Mount of Olives
- Christ at the Column
- The Conversion of Saint Paul
- Conversion on the Way to Damascus
- The Crowning with Thorns
- The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew
- Crucifixion of St. Peter
- David with the Head of Goliath
- David and Goliath
- Death of the Virgin
- The Denial of Saint Peter
- Ecce Homo
- The Entombment of Christ
- The Flagellation of Christ
- The Fortune Teller
- The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
- The Inspiration of Saint Matthew
- John the Baptist
- Judith Beheading Holofernes
- Neptune and Pluto
- The Lute Player
- Madonna and Child with St. Anne
- Martha and Mary Magdalene
- The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew
- The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula
- Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy
- The Musicians
- Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence
- Penitent Magdalene